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Alvin Ailey Groundbreaking Ceremony - Editorial by Robert Abrams

by Robert Abrams, Dr. Roberta E. Zlokower
October 9, 2002
New York, NY

Featured Dance Company:

Alvin Ailey Dance Theater
Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater
405 West 55th Street
New York, NY 10019
(212) 405-9000

Alvin Ailey Groundbreaking Ceremony

October 9, 2002

The Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater celebrated the groundbreaking for their new school and center for dance with a time honored New York City tradition that extends at least as far back as 1709. A group of Ailey students danced and proceeded down 9th Avenue to the site of their soon to be constructed building at 55th street.

Renderings of Ailey's new home courtesy of Darin Gregory Reynolds/Iu Bibliowicz Architects

The ceremony, held in a tent on the site, was led off by Junior Division students performing "Breaking Ground", exuberantly. Speeches were given by Judith Jamison, Ailey's artistic director, Joan Weill, Chairman of Ailey's board, and Mayor Bloomberg. They each took shovels and dug up a symbolic shovel's worth of earth. The earth had been symbolically mixed with gold glitter, presumably to bring good fortune on the project. It was a nice touch. After all, what dance event is complete without glitter? It's good to know that the ballroom world is not the only part of the dance solar system that thinks this way.

The second performance was an excerpt from "The Winter in Lisbon". This work showed a fusion of ballet and swing, accented by a vibrant interplay of form and color. The fusion was evident in both the steps used, as well as in the styling of the costumes.

The final performance of the afternoon was an excerpt from "Revelations", which showed off Ailey's signature use of and respect for Gospel traditions.

Finally, the Ailey board joined the dancers on stage, at which point there was a burst of gold like pennies from heaven (technically, it was more glitter, but you get the idea).

A lot of work went into this event behind the scenes too, from the guy who smoothly moved the lectern on and off the stage between performances and speeches, to the sleek, computer-controlled swiveling theatrical lights that helped the dancers shine.

The work presented this afternoon clearly demonstrated Joan Weill's statement that "Ailey is a bridge to bring cultures together." Part of how they create that bridge, in addition to their performances, is through their school, which, as Mayor Bloomberg remarked, is a place that gives "children a chance to grow." I have no doubt that Ailey will take the talent and energy that is crammed into their current building and grow into their soon to be new space. I have no doubt that this growth will eventually benefit the kinetic and spiritual well being of New York City and the world.


Robert Abrams
Editor, ExploreDance.com

You can find more information about Alvin Ailey at their website: www.alvinailey.org.

Stepping to a Joyous Noise

Photos by Roberta Zlokower

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